By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes
As someone who used to accept job interviews for fun, I’ve learned a lot about what interviews can say about an organization and their culture. When you have the luxury of choice and you don’t need to accept a position right away, you can treat an interview the way you treat shopping: constant trips to the dressing room until something fits perfectly.
But as you read this, consider that only 32.2% of Americans are engaged at work. Yikes.
Let’s examine a few interview red flags so that you can avoid joining the miserable majority of the workforce.
- The interview process has you scratching your head.
A client of mine named Jennifer was scheduled for a phone conference with a very large, very well known organization. At the start of the call, the recruiter introduced the interview panel—which included two more Jennifer’s! My client stated afterward that it was the most disorganized, confusing phone conference of her life; she was told multiple times “Oh, not you, the other Jennifer.” She decided immediately that this organization was not a fit for her.
Ever heard of the expression: how you do one thing is how you do everything? Such applies to a company… If they’re disorganized in their job interview process, they’re not going to be organized when you join their team.
Another client of mine mentioned a time she declined a second interview after the recruiter sent her an email, from his iPhone, with the subject: “Time for call tomorrow???????” While this type of jargon is acceptable in a personal setting, it is downright unprofessional in the workplace. Proper e-mail and phone etiquette of the recruiters and interviewers can reflect a lower caliber culture. Move on.
- There is no room for negotiation.
In the world of job offers, there is so much more on the table for negotiation beyond salary. In fact, more than 73% of college studentshave valued passion over pay.
What is important to you? Are you able to negotiate for that?
More 50% of millennials, for example, value flexibility in the workplace and tend to stray from a typical 9 to 5. Consider if the company you are interviewing with supports your personal requirements, whether it be telecommuting once a week or a vehicle allowance. If they balk at the prospect of any negotiation, it may be time to reconsider.
- You’ll get a boss, but not a leader.
Two of my favorite interview questions are “What are the benchmarks for success in this role?” and, bluntly, “Why is this position available?”
The interviewer(s) ability to answer these questions clearly and concisely is crucial. Do the benchmarks support your professional goals? Does the interviewer seem intent on leading towards said benchmarks?
Side note: question 2 may blur some moral boundaries, but I like to ask in case they say the former employee was promoted.
Many successful professionals have mentors, and of those, 94% of them say that their mentor gives good advice. If the person you will be reporting to has all but checked out, you likely won’t receive the professional guidance that is integral for your career growth.
Take a moment to think about all the things you want to suit your needs. We evaluate what foods to eat, what products to buy, or where to take our next trip. Even a relatively simple task, like choosing a dinner spot on Yelp, can turn into an hour-long research project. Yet we often get reactive in our careers, jumping from job to job — joining that miserable majority of the workforce who feels disengaged in their jobs.
We should be able to approach job interviews with a healthy amount of skepticism and really evaluate whether or not the company, the leadership, the culture, or the work/life balance truly suit us. As is true outside the job market, trust your gut when you see those red flags!
After all, you deserve to feel alive and engaged in your job. Because when you are, everyone wins.